Dai Young admitted he was humbled by well wishes from former club Wasps after he returned to rugby with the Cardiff Blues.
Nearly 11 months after his shock exit from Wasps after almost nine years as director of rugby, the 53-year-old was recently announced as the interim boss at Cardiff Arms Park until the end of the season.
And those associated with his former employers were quick out of the blocks to congratulate the Welshman on his return to the sport.
“I want to give a big, big thank you to all of the Wasps family,” Young told CoventryLive. “I’ve been completely blown away by all the well wishers I’ve had since I joined Cardiff.
“The reaction from Wasps supporters, wishing me all the best, ex players, current players, I’ve been totally blown away by the amount of best wishes and good luck messages I’ve had. It’s been really humbling to be honest.”
After parting company with Wasps back in February 2020, the club only managed to play four more times with fans in attendance before the global pandemic, with the next 19 – including a Premiership final at Twickenham – being played behind closed doors.
It has denied Young a proper chance to say goodbye to Wasps – but also to see his son Thomas captain the side in the absence of Joe Launchbury when the lock is on international duty.
“That is my one regret that I haven’t been able to go back to the Ricoh,” added Young. “I really felt it when Thomas was picked as captain this season. And I know he didn’t take it lightly, he realises what an honour that is and what footsteps he is following in with the likes of Lawrence [Dallaglio].
“I was gutted I couldn’t be in the crowd there to watch Thomas lead them out and I’ve certainly been frustrated through Covid restrictions, I haven’t been able to go back.
“I have promised the owner, Derek [Richardson], once we are allowed and I can fit it in, I’ll definitely go back to the Ricoh and have a pint with Derek and watch the players performing out on the pitch.”
Could a possible Wasps v Cardiff Blues pre-season friendly be in the offing to present Young with an opportunity to belatedly say those goodbyes?
“I don’t know if I am going to be there any longer than six months, it may happen, it may not, who knows?” he said. “I could still end up in the Premiership next season. You can never discount that, for me, Wasps are always going to be the second result I’m looking for.
“Within all the well wishes and good luck messages, I think everybody recognised that I gave everything I had to Wasps, the commitment and loyalty I showed to Wasps has been recognised. I am the first to say I didn’t go everything right, obviously, nobody does.
“I am proud of what we achieved, it’s always going to be close to me. I do feel honoured to be a part of the Wasps family and as they say, once a Wasp, always a Wasp. I hope I am recognised in that bracket.”
Back to basics
Young hopes to be more ‘hands on’ back at Cardiff after allowing himself to drift further away from the training field during his final years at Wasps to manage a multitude of off-field issues.
The former Barbarians coach said: “That’s the plan moving forward. That’s not a criticism of how it ended up at Wasps. That’s just the natural thing sometimes, you bring people in and you look back and think ‘was it right? Was it wrong? Where am I best suited?’. You only know these types of things when you get a bit of time to reflect.
“I’m really pleased that Lee [Blackett] and the boys are doing really well and kicking on and hopefully they can carry on the momentum again this season.”
He added: “My plan was to recharge my batteries. In an ideal world I’d have had three or four months, do a little bit of CPD (Continuous Personal Development) work going around the place but the rugby world has shut down.
“The last three or four months have dragged. I’ve never been out of work. I’ve never not had things to do in the morning, to get up for, go into work, so it has been a bit of a slog. When the opportunity came to go back to Cardiff until the end of the season, initially, I jumped at the opportunity just to get back involved in rugby.
“With just one week under my belt I’ve just thoroughly enjoyed being back doing what I love which is working within rugby.”